Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nerdy Birdy: Hummy Huntington Gardens

I went back to the Huntington Gardens today because I found something very special yesterday and I did not have the people or the liberty of time to spend time with it like I wanted. On the way into the gardens yesterday I heard the chirp of a hummingbird and since I am now so sensitive to bird sounds I searched until I found it perched at the end of a branch. At first I thought it was eating honey from a bees nest, it seemed to be pecking this round ball of wood. It was only when I stepped a bit closer, the hummingbird flew off and out popped two tiny heads.


I was ASTOUNDED for one because I had never seen a hummingbird nest before but also because I have never taken photos of a full nest period.


I only waited about five minutes hoping that the mamma bird would come back before I felt the people with me get a bit restless. Birding takes a lot of time and patience; the people with me were not interested. Taking one last shot I walked away reasoning that I could come again tomorrow, alone and wait all day if I needed.


Addendum: My mother made a good point, not many people know just how TINY a little hummingbird nest is. My shots only make it look large because I am using my telephoto lens. I could not climb up there for a comparison so I found this shot to show you just how tiny it is.


Ms. Dancer and I returned today and camped out a short distance away. Of course the nest and the baby birds were still there and they were a lot livelier today than yesterday. I even caught this cute shot of one sticking his tongue out.


We sat and waited, the mother returned to the nest often (about every half hour) but she only stayed for moments before zipping off again.


So, we stayed and waited longer; every time I heard her zipping in I would jump up camera in hand to grab the two or three shots I could. I kept watching and repositioning myself hoping to get that perfect shot.


After about an hour and a half we decided to take a break from the nest and head into the actual gardens. Maybe because I was more in-tune with the hummingbirds I kept seeing them everywhere so I spent some time taking photos of some adults perching and singing their hearts out.


And then I got this bird, who let me get SO CLOSE.


But I got a little bored with this. I have gotten to the point where taking photos of stationary birds is almost too easy so I moved onto trying to get bird photos where I get a subject, the right lighting, get the focus right and photo it but move onto REALLY paying attention to the background. A good shot can be ruined by not looking past the subject. I love the twisted branches and blue and green bokeh behind this bird.


But when I found this hummingbird amid a tree of yellow I was in HEAVEN.


Since the flowers were in full bloom we headed to a cluster that I had seen a few adult hummingbirds eating from. I really wanted to take my bird photography and challenge myself which meant ATTEMPTING to get a shot of a hummingbird sipping nectar out of a flower. If you have EVER seen how fast a hummingbird can move then you know that these buggers are FAST and trying to get a photo in focus was a nightmare of technical difficulties.

I took over 350 shots of hummingbirds and most of them ended up looking like a big blurry mess or a game like where’s Waldo. However I was tenacious (350 shots and two hours tenacious) and after several trials and errors I finally started to get the hang of it.

I managed to get one shot, ONE GLORIOUS amazing fabulous shot and I could not be happier.


It makes my heart sing with joy

To put icing on my double decker chocolate cake of a high was on the way out of the park where I stopped at the nest and within 20 minutes managed to get the awesome shots I have been waiting for.

Mama bird landed…


She greeted her babies…


And then she fed… and I got the shot of the nest WITH the mother that I had been hoping for.


It happened in a little less than 30 seconds and I swear I held my breath the entire time. God I love this hobby, when you get a day like today it is super rewarding.

1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

I've never seen a hummingbird nest before either! You really got some great shots -your patience and persistency really paid off!

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